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Vancouver Police Board rejects city's call for 1% budget cut, asks council to rescind motion
VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Police Board is essentially rejecting a call by Vancouver City Hall to cut 1 per cent from the police budget.
In a letter to Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Vancouver city councillors, which CTV News has obtained, the police board asks city council to rescind its May 13 motion calling for the cut.
“Public safety is not just our priority, it is our responsibility,” writes Barj Dhanan, chair of the police board’s finance committee, in the letter.
“The board has carefully considered the implications of council’s motion, and remains firm that protecting the wellbeing of the community through adequate resourcing of our police department is paramount, in particular during these uncertain times.”
The letter continues:
“Furthermore, the recent tragic events in Minneapolis have resulted in the emergence of large scale demonstrations, which will have a considerable impact on our budget.”
In support of the letter, Ralph Kaisers, president of the Vancouver Police Union, told CTV News Vancouver the council’s request for cuts would “seriously compromise public safety” in the city.
“We haven’t been properly funded for quite a number of years to be at the staffing levels that we should be at, so any thought of now taking additional funds away from the department would seriously compromise public safety in the City of Vancouver,” Kaisers said.
Previously, Vancouver police Chief Adam Palmer called the cuts unacceptable and said it would amount to an $8.5 million cut to the city’s $340 million police budget this year.
But, the city is dealing with dwindling resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic and needs to find ways to make significant cutbacks.
“It was disappointing to hear back from the police and police board that they weren’t able to find or weren’t interested to find 1 per cent savings as council had directed to help meet the financial pressures of this moment,” said city Coun. Christine Boyle.
Her comments were echoed by Coun. Pete Fry.
“It was an ask, and it was rejected, that’s that,” Fry said. “We were hoping that they would be able to find some creative solutions as every other department across the city have been looking at and find ways to minimize overhead.”
The police budget makes up about one-fifth of the city’s overall budget.
The full letter is embedded below.